Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

April 19, 2013

Meteor showers will be present through April 26

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Meteorologists are monitoring the skies this week for the viewing possibilities of the Lyrids, the first major meteor shower since early January.

Tim Mitchell, a meteorologist with the Buffalo office of the National Weather Service, said viewing in Niagara County — in fact, for all of Western New York — should not be a problem.

The shower will be visible through April 26, peaking during the predawn hours of Sunday, April 21, and Monday, April 22. 

Mitchell said that we will experience mostly clear skies starting “very late” Saturday night and lasting through Monday morning.

“There may be a few clouds, but they shouldn’t obscure the skies too much,” Mitchell said. “It might be the best we’ll see from the skies for the next several days.”

While the Lyrids average 10 to 20 meteors an hour, Mark Paquette of State College, Pa.-based AccuWeather said there is potential for significantly more.

“It is unpredictable,” Paquette said. “Sometimes lyrids have ‘surges’ that can break up the rate to near 100 per hour.”

Paquette explained that the Lyrids, named for their location in the constellation Lyra, are the debris of Comet Thatcher tail when Earth’s path crosses through it. The meteors are bits of the tail’s comet, usually no bigger than grains of sand, that strike the atmosphere at 49 kilometers a second. As they travel through our atmosphere, they disintegrate as streaks of light, possibly casting a shadow before leaving behind smoke-like trail of debris.

Most of the country will have clear to partly cloudy skies during the predawn hours on Saturday. A section of the Plains into the upper Northwest, as well as most of the East Coast, will have cloudy skies that will make any sightings difficult.

Some details for this story were provided by AccuWeather, which is located in State College, Pa.

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